What is CARM?

CARM (or CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management) is a project by the Government of Canada aiming to simplify and streamline the process of importing commercial goods into Canada.

Through CARM, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) intends to modernize their accounting and data management systems to:

  • Simplify the importing process
  • Allow importers to manage their own trade activity
  • Improve compliance with trade rules and regulations
  • Increase border security

CARM will affect everyone in the trade community – from importers and customs brokers to freight forwarders and carriers. Below we provide an overview of CARM, how it will affect your imported shipments, and how you can prepare for the changes.


The CARM Client Portal will be open for registration on May 25, 2021. 

As of May 2022, it will be mandatory for all importers to be registered to the portal prior 
to customs release.

The CARM Project Overview

CARM will roll out in two phases. The first phase, the Accounts Receivable Ledger (ARL), was implemented in January 2016 and included several important changes to payment processes.

Phase 2 will roll out in two stages (or releases) and will introduce an online self-service portal for importers, called the CARM Client Portal.

Release 1

Beginning on May 25, 2021, the CBSA will open the CARM Client Portal for registration.

In order to import, all businesses must have an Import/Export account. Once you obtain your BN account then you may begin registration to the portal.

Release 1 will allow importers (or Customs Brokers on their behalf) to do the following:

  • Submit and track Advanced Ruling requests;
  • View transactions posted to their account;
  • Make payments by credit card or set up pre-authorized debit***;
  • Delegate portal access to employees and PF Collins;
  • Classify goods and estimate duties and taxes (Note: CBSA will not accept classifications and duty/tax estimates done on the portal as binding).

*** Please contact us prior to making any payments through the portal.

Release 2

By May 2022, it will be mandatory for all importers to be registered to the CARM Client Portal to manage customs releases and submit payments.

For instance, you will now be able to use the portal to:

  • Acquire a Business Number and program account (RM);
  • Submit, correct and adjust a Commercial & Accounting Declaration (CAD). (Note: Customs release requests will not be possible in the portal);
  • Post financial security to participate in the Release Prior to Payment (RPP) program.

How Will CARM Affect Importers?

CARM will present significant changes for businesses importing commercial goods into Canada, including the following:

1. Firstly, it will be mandatory for importers to set up an account in the CARM Client Portal. You will also have to give access to your Customs Broker so we can manage your imports on your behalf.

2. Importers will be responsible for all financial obligations and will have to post their own security to participate in the Release Prior to Payment (RPP) Program. This means that your shipments will no longer be able to be released under PF Collins’ bond. 

3. The way accounting data is submitted will change under CARM.

4. Finally, new billing cycles will be introduced for the payment of duties, taxes, and fees. As a result, changes to your internal accounting processes may be required.

For these reasons, we recommend you begin preparing for CARM and take the following steps to make the transition easier to avoid delays with your shipments.

Preparing for CARM Registration

1. Identify Key Users in Your Organization

Before registering to the CARM Client Portal, we recommend identifying the key members of your organization that will be using the portal. This will include not only individuals involved in customs activities, but also accounting staff and executives.

Features available in Release 1 will relate to post-customs release activities, such as viewing your Statement of Account and making payments. Therefore, your accounting and compliance staff will need access for these functions. Supply chain and logistics personnel will have a lower need to access the portal.

These operational considerations will be important when you delegate user roles within the CARM Client Portal. We provide more information on delegating User Roles below.

2. Obtain GCKeys for Designated Users

Once you have identified the key users within your organization, they will require login credentials. To login to the CARM Client Portal, designated users must obtain a GCKey or login through a Sign-In Partner.

A GCKey is a unique, electronic credential issued by the Government of Canada that allows you to securely access online government services, called Enabled Services.

Sign-In Partners are private sector financial institutions that allow you to login to Government of Canada online services using your existing online credentials (e.g. bank card numbers or usernames/passwords).

Recommendations for Using GCKeys and Sign-In Partners

  • You can only sign up for a GCKey through an Enabled Service. The CARM Client Portal will be an Enabled Service when it opens for registration on May 25, 2021.
  • GCKeys are issued to individuals and are personal credentials. You may already have a GCKey through other Government of Canada departments, such as CRA, Service Canada, CERS, etc. However, we highly recommend you obtain a separate GCKey for the CARM Client Portal through the portal itself.
  • Sign-In Partners are select Canadian Financial Institutions. Login with these partners is done using an individual’s personal banking information. We do not recommend using this method as the same login is used to access an individual’s personal accounts with other government services (e.g. CRA).

3. Designate Your Business Account Manager

To register your company in the CARM Client Portal, you will need to delegate a Business Account Manager (BAM) to complete the registration process and provide access to other users. Important considerations when determing your BAM include:

  • The person registering your company will automatically be granted BAM level of authority. Therefore, they will possess the highest level of management access over your account.
  • The BAM authority will manage all user access and maintain full control over your company’s profile, business and program accounts with the CRA, CBSA, etc.
  • The BAM will need the required legal information to link the business account in the portal, such as GST Registration or Articles of Incorporation.
  • After registration, we suggest immediately assigning a second BAM to the account. Assigning a minimum of two BAMs ensures you do not lose access to your CARM Client Portal account. 

We recommend understanding portal user roles and delegating the appropriate people within your company prior to registration. We will provide more information on User Roles in the coming weeks.

4. Verify Your Company Name and Address

To register to the CARM Client Portal, your company name and address must exactly match your Business Number profile. Therefore, prior to registration to the portal, we recommend verifying your company name and address in relation to your Business Number. You can do this by contacting CRA Business Accounts at 1-800-959-5525 or through the CRA My Business Account web portal.

5. Designate PF Collins as Your Customs Broker

Once you register to the portal, you will need to give us access to manage your import activity on your behalf as your Customs Broker within the portal. We will provide more information on this in the coming weeks.

If you require assistance in determining what import activities we conduct for you, please contact us at (709) 726-7596 or [email protected].

6. Review Your Business Processes

CARM will change the way you manage your imports. As a result, it will require planning and changes to your business processes.

For example, some questions to consider include:

    • Who will manage the CARM Client Portal?
    • Is your bank setup to receive and transmit payments to CBSA?
    • Who will be reviewing your Daily Notices and Statements of Account?
    • What changes to your accounting practices are needed to meet CBSA payment deadlines?

Ensure your accounting department and executive team are aware of their responsibilities and financial security regulations/obligations. Furthermore, we recommend establishing internal company procedures covering CARM financial, reconciliation, and monthly payment of duties and GST. 

7. Obtain a Security Bond

Prior to Release 2 (May 2022), you will need to obtain a security bond. CBSA requires a security bond to cover duties, taxes, and fees owing on goods imported into Canada. Duty and taxes must be paid prior to release if financial security is not provided through a financial security. 

You can purchase a customs bonds from a surety company. Alternatively, we can arrange one for you. If you need assistance in applying for a security bond, please contact us at (709) 726-7596 or [email protected].

CSCB Webinar Series – CARM for the Trade Community

In early 2021, the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) will be providing the following series of webinars to prepare Canada’s trade community for CARM. These sessions are open to the public and will include representatives from CBSA.

For more information, visit CSCB Webinar Series on CARM. 

Note: PF Collins’ clients receive a discount when you register through us! Contact [email protected] to learn more.

For More Information

We will continue to monitor CARM’s release status and provide updates as they become available. In the meantime, please visit CBSA’s website for more information or subscribe to the CARM Engagement newsletter.

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